Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Indonesian Fairy Tale Of A Biography?

(Definition of fairy tale - an interesting but highly implausible story; often told as an excuse.)
The following is an equally interesting report from Channel Newsasia.

A biography on Indonesia's former president Suharto has triggered arguments and discussion in the country. That is because the book claims that the former leader was innocent of corruption. Instead, he was said to have fallen victim to his children and former ministers who enriched themselves through special privileges.

Nine years after Mr Suharto was forced down from office, the clamour for justice against the former President still reverberates across Indonesia. The 87-year-old former president has been declared too ill to stand trial for alleged embezzlement and corruption. He has been accused of siphoning some US$600 million through the seven foundations he led during his reign.

To date, public prosecutors are still exploring ways to recover the funds, which are said to be deposited in various Indonesian state banks.

A recently-published biography however, has argued that Mr Suharto is innocent of the charges. The book by Madam Retnowati Abdulgani-Knapp is the first authorised work on the former leader, and it has understandably created waves across the country.

The author said, "In the beginning he just said 'why, what else do you want to know?' Then we persuaded him by telling (him) we have to put everything in perspective, especially for the generation to come."

One perspective which the book tries to correct is the view that the seven Yayasan or Foundations under Mr Suharto were means for the former president to enrich himself. On the contrary the writer believes the foundations - set up with contributions from Indonesian Chinese tycoons - were Mr Suharto's short cut to help the country's poor and not to rely on the limited state budget.

According to Madam Retnowati, the contributions were paybacks from Chinese businessmen, which Mr Suharto obtained in return for the economic privileges he gave them. She said, "He took the short cut with a good intention. For that reason, writing about Suharto in my book, I try to understand what is his intention."

When asked if there was a good intention or a bad one, she replied, "I do believe (it was) all good intentions. But along the way, somebody took advantage of it - that is true." She believes Mr Suharto lost control of the situation, and fell victim to his children's actions. Mr Suharto was also betrayed by a number of his trusted ministers.

Madam Retnowati has brushed aside charges that she is out to defend the former president, citing the critical comments she made against Mr Suharto in a 1998 article in Time magazine. The international magazine was subsequently sued by Mr Suharto.

She said, "Now I'm defending him because I'm up to my neck with these ministers who got all the benefits and who never want to criticise him...I stood up against him. I stood up now when he was left alone and (has been) betrayed."

Many Indonesians may disagree with Madam Retnowati's view of their former president, but she hopes the biography will help people form a fair judgement of the former leader, and accord him his rightful place in Indonesia's history.
***** I'm not too conversant with matters Indonesian, theref0re please make your own conclusions on this subject.
Image - Source

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I think most Malaysians are pondering more on the ASTRO hike in monthly subscription fees than Indonesian affairs.

5:26 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous soo said...

The writer is a daughter of Roslan Abdulgani...one of the early freedom fighters of Indonesia with Sukarno....might be interesting to hear her views..

7:02 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In that case, Ferninand Marcos is also innocent of corruption. He also took the short cut with a good intention. All the millions he stole went to his children and not to him. Paul Wolfowitz and Eric Cheah and Kasitah Gaddam (should be Saddam) also took illicit money with good intentions. In fact, all the corrupted become so with good intentions, that is to enrich their children. So they should not be charged in court for corruption. Hahahah

10:56 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Matrika said...

Keep up the good work.

8:12 PM GMT+8  

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